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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/07/30

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Creationism is stirring in Louisiana. In the meantime, the History
News Network commemorates the anniversary of the Scopes trial with a
pair of essays, and the American Academy of Religion affirms that
creation science or intelligent design are wrong for the science


Creationism is stirring in Louisiana, with a proposal to teach
creationism in Livingston Parish and a call for creationists to
scrutinize textbooks proposed for adoption by the state in the

"The Livingston Parish School Board will begin exploring the
possibility of incorporating the teaching of 'creationism' in the
public school system's science classes," reported the Baton Rouge
Advocate (July 24, 2010). The director of curriculum for the district
reportedly told the board that, under the Louisiana Science Education
Act, schools are allowed to present "critical thinking and
creationism" in science classes. The response from the board was
enthusiastic, with David Tate asking, "Why can't we get someone with
religious beliefs to teach creationism?" and Clint Mitchell adding,
"Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a
way to get it into the classroom." Keith Martin, the president of the
board, agreed, "Maybe it's time that we look at this," and proposed
the formation of a committee to study the possibility.

Meanwhile, as the state is receiving input from citizens about science
textbooks proposed for state adoption, creationist activists are
urging their followers to object to the coverage of evolution. In a
letter published in the Hammond Daily Star (July 26, 2010), Barbara
Forrest debunks a series of misleading claims about the so-called
Santorum Amendment, the state of public opinion about evolution, and
the scientific accuracy of leading biology textbooks. After reviewing
the all-too-successful recent history of antievolutionist efforts in
Louisiana, she concludes, "Throughout it all, the citizens of
Louisiana have remained almost completely silent. With a few
commendable exceptions, the scientific community has done the same.
Will they finally do something this time to stop the assault on
science and public education?

Louisiana, it will be remembered, was on the losing side of the last
legal case involving the teaching of evolution in the public schools
to be decided by the Supreme Court, Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).

For the article in the Advocate, visit: 

For Forrest's letter, visit: 

For the decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: 


The History News Network commemorated the eighty-fifth anniversary of
the Scopes trial -- which ended on July 21, 1925 -- by commissioning
two essays to mark the occasion.

In his essay, David N. Reznick, a professor of biology at the
University of California, Riverside, and author of The Origin Then and
Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species (Princeton
University Press, 2009), reflects on the persistence of public
controversy about evolution. He writes, "the theory of evolution has
been a consistent target of religiously motivated propaganda
campaigns. ... The arguments against evolution have changed little
over the decades. ... All of these arguments have been refuted, but
they persist." He concluded by encouraging his colleagues in the
humanities to expand their efforts "dealing with the relationship
between science and religion as a topic for the humanities classroom,
rather than the science classroom."

Responding to Reznick, Everett Hamner, a professor of English at
Western Illinois University, enthusiastically endorsed the thought
that "alongside scientific colleagues, we humanists can do a major
service when we directly engage the relationship between science and
religion." His suggestions for doing so: carefully distinguish between
science and scientism; humanize Darwin and other scientists; question
bifurcations of the religious and the secular; and cultivate more
careful readings of scriptures, not their dismissal. His essay ended
with a list of suggested readings, including NCSE's executive director
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction (second
edition: University of California Press, 2009).

The History News Network is a project of the Center for History and
New Media at George Mason University, featuring essays offering
historical perspective on current events.

For Reznick's essay, visit: 

For Hamner's essay, visit: 


It is wrong to teach creation science or intelligent design in the
science classroom, according to the American Academy of Religion. In
its "Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K-12 Public Schools in
the United States," issued in April 2010, the Academy poses the
question "Can creation science or intelligent design be taught in
schools?" and answers (p. 21, emphasis in the original):


Yes, but NOT in science classes. Creation science and intelligent
design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science
that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on
gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific
principles of reasoning. Creation science, intelligent design, and
other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of
life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry
that is appropriately studied in literature or social sciences
courses. Such study, however, MUST include a diversity of worldviews
representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and
must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.


The American Academy of Religion is a learned society and professional
association of teachers and research scholars, with over 10,000
members who teach in over 1000 colleges, universities, seminaries, and
schools in North America and abroad. The Academy is dedicated to
furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions in all
their forms and manifestations.

For the AAR's Guidelines (PDF), visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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